Roster Snapshot: Running Back

Maybe the smallest position group in terms of numbers that needs to improve significantly.

This is going to be the easiest position to recap because there are only five players and in my opinion, they all need improvement in my opinion and I think this class needs another running back in addition to Desmond Nisby (I’m not showing Nisby because he won’t be here in the spring). And remember, the rushing offense was 123rd in rushing yards last year and if advanced stats is your thing, the Red Raiders were 103rd in rushing S&P+. That’s pretty terrible.

No. Player Position Ht/Wt Year
27 Demarcus Felton Running Back 5-7/190 Junior
4 Justin Stockton Running Back 5-10/200 Senior
30 Caleb Woodward Running Back 6-0/210 Senior
32 Da’Leon Ward Running Back 5-10/180 Sophomore
29 Mason Reed Fullback 6-2/215 Sophomore

I know that the star of the class last year was the emergence of Ward and he really was good. I don’t know how this is going to work without Mahomes and how a power running back without a power offensive line or a quarterback that creates space because defenses have to defend it. In other words I don’t know if Ward was good because of Mahomes.

ROSTER RECAP: The Graduates | The Juniors | Defensive Line | Linebackers | Safeties | Cornerbacks |
Guards and Center | Tackles

This probably isn’t a popular opinion, but I still think that Felton is the right call at running back. My problem with Felton is that he can’t stay healthy at his size, or at least he didn’t last year. Of the running backs, I think he’s the shiftiest and he’s the most like Washington, which I like quite a bit. The funny thing is that given Felton’s size and Ward’s size, Felton had 10 pounds on Ward, which truthfully makes Felton the bigger running back, just not the taller running back.

The biggest question about the running backs has nothing to do with the running backs, but it is completely dependent on what the offensive line is going to be. Are they going to be road graders? Are they just going to be more passiveĀ and just sorta move their bodies around to create lanes and space? I think the type of running back is going to be largely dependent on how much the offensive line improves. If we get much of the same thing from last year, then give me Felton because there just won’t be a ton of space to operate and he’ll hit the hole faster than anyone on the team and it’s probably not really close. If the line improves, holds some blocks and pushes some people around, then it could be Ward or Desmond Nisby, the big-bodied back from the California JUCO.

The coaches, particularly Kingsbury, have to do a better job of figuring out how to use Stockton in a games because he is a valuable threat. But he has to be in the right situation. And as to moving him to slot receiver, who do you move? Giles, Coutee, Sadler, Batson? It’s easier said than done and the problem is that Stockton just doesn’t have a ton of wiggle. It’s straight-line speed and I’m good with Stockton playing on all passing third-down plays. He’s a capable blocker and he’s a threat to catch the ball.

Reed was a revelation at the end of the year last year, his pass catching is probably the most impressive part of his game and he does need to work on the blocking aspect of his game. And it would be nice if the staff could find another fullback, perhaps Colton Nied? Or maybe Woodward can find a home at fullback. Technically, he’s the biggest back on the team by 10 pounds, but we’ve really never seen what he can do.

And one more quick point with the commitment of Nisby, which is that Texas Tech won’t have that short-yardage quarterback like last year and Nisby almost becomes a necessity at this point, or at least I think his presence could certainly help quite a bit in those short-yardage or goal line situations. Someone better be ready to run tough for those touchdowns.


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